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Aleksandr Vlasov is the latest Russian rider to speak out against the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The 25-year-old from Vyborg took to social media to express his feelings about the war, which began last week when Russian troops mounted a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Several Ukrainian cities are under siege by the Russian army, while the city of Kherson has been seized. Russia’s actions have received almost unilateral condemnation from countries around the world, while some have accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of war crimes.
Speaking on his Instagram account, Vlasov said he hoped that the war would end soon and that he wanted to be able to “unite” people through sport rather than “divide” them.
“I, like a lot of Russians, just want peace. I’m not a political person, and normal people like me weren’t asked if we want a war,” he wrote. “It has been a shock for everyone and I hope that it will stop as soon as possible. It’s a difficult situation for everybody. I feel sorry for all the people who are suffering, and I hope that there will soon be peace.
“I am an athlete and my goal should be to unite people across political borders, rather than divide them. I think that should be the role of sports.”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the UCI has banned teams from Russia and Belarus, one of its key allies, from competing. However, riders with Russian and Belarusian licenses have been allowed to continue to race if they are registered with foreign teams.
On Thursday, British Cycling wrote to the UCI and the European governing body asking for them to ban riders from Russia and Belarus to be banned from competing, along with other measures.
Meanwhile, the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) has banned riders from those countries from competing in Dutch events. This would include events such as the Amstel Gold Race in April
Under the current rules, Vlasov is allowed to ride in events outside of the Netherlands as he races with the German-registered Bora-Hansgrohe team.